Thursday, June 29, 2017

Up Here


        There is something about getting on a plane and watching your home become tiny lights in a kaleidoscope that will disappear soon, that guts me; making me more aware of my surroundings. For one, I don't like heights, so I don't like flying...any single part of it. Secondly, flying makes me feel so small as I watch the big world with people I know and love living in it at that very moment slip away like they didn't even exist.

        We went to Dallas to visit a life-long friend of Laura's, and her beautiful family. Texas is a long way from Michigan, so we had to fly. When I have to fly, I drink some beer or whatever I can find. I hate planes. I don't want a plane to go down in the ocean and then survive just to be eaten by sharks. Even if I am not flying over the ocean, I still fear this because who knows what could happen...there can always be sharks. I had a couple of beers in the airport waiting to board. It helped and I relaxed a bit.

        As soon as the plane took off and I was out of the "danger zone," I started to be thankful. I started to think about the people that were doing what they always do right under me. It was weird because it made me think of what God might see. All of these people He loves doing what they always do while other things are happening all over the world without them. At that moment, I was 20,000 feet above everyone else that I loved in the entire world, except those with me in the plane. At that moment, I looked over to the girl sitting in the window seat beside me and saw her crying.

        I wanted to ask her why she was crying, but no one wants to be bothered when they are crying. It made me feel bad and also wonder: Who is she flying away from? Did she come home to see her family and she is crushed to leave? Is she leaving those she loves for other things? Doesn't matter because I think she was watching them become lights in a kaleidoscope and thinking the same thing I was. I put on my headphones and tried to focus elsewhere.

        About an hour later I looked over to Laura, who was sitting in the aisle of the other row. I saw a girl in the window seat of the same row reading.  She was reading a funeral pamphlet. The girl in the picture looked the same age as her... maybe 30 years old. She flipped through it and read every word: In fact she turned a page, then turned back to read it again. It made me sad because someone died and she cared a lot for that person. A lot of people probably cared a lot for that person. I thought to myself; People down there don't care much about people they don't know, or if they lost someone, or are leaving someone that will be greatly missed by them. But up here, we see the world as tiny lights, and all we have anymore is up here in this plane...just trying to breathe.




Thanks for reading...Z

Sunday, June 18, 2017

The Lion - Part 1 and 2

         The alarms went off and everyone started running in every direction. I only knew what way to go, and that was to home.

        I ran as fast as I could. There wasn't even a bike I could borrow. I just ran, hoping I could outrun my death. I got about a block away from my house before I began to doubt that I would make it.

       My mom was special. She had cancer. Cancer isn't special. Cancer is a Satan and he was going to take her from me at 5 years old, I just knew it. I just remember feeling so hopeless watching the world darken and turn into terrifying shapes I will never forget. The wind picked up and the sky got really dark. I ran past the Whitakers and their wind chimes were singing a terrible song. Garbage cans and newspapers flew everywhere. But I pushed forward to my house, that held my mother.

        Me and my mom used to write on each other's backs at night. It was a fun game that we always played, no matter what. She would draw either a word or a picture on my back and I would guess. When one of us made a mistake, we would erase the entire palate like one would a chalk board. I would draw on her back, and she would draw on mine. We would do this until one of us didn't turn around for their turn. Then the other would know they were asleep, and then go to sleep themselves. Going to sleep felt so lonely to me.  I rarely slept first. I always waited for her. I had to protect her.

        Who else would? My dad left before I was born. I didn't have any siblings. I was the only "man." He left before I was born, denying all kinds of things. She didn't drag me through it...she walked away, risking our well being for my dignity. And now here I am running from a dark siege toward my home that I grew up in; that hadn't been fortified or fixed in decades, to get to my mom. I needed her and she needed me. We were each other's cure for loneliness. We were also each other's cures to the terror in the world.

        The wind blew me down to the ground, planting my face into a wheat bail. I got up immediately and started running, while also staggering toward the front door. The wind struck again, throwing me onto the bending stalks of corn. I got up again and set my eyes to my home. I ran toward the door as the wind pushed me to the right, then suddenly to the left.

       The front door burst open and there she was. My mom came running out. I knew she would. I knew she had to be there. I was scared she wouldn't be, but I just knew she would. The wind blew her down the moment she stepped out of the house. She got back up and forged ahead to me. I wasn't as brave as I was a moment ago. When I saw her, I became a kid again. I was scared and showing it. She fell several times before she reached out her hand and grabbed onto my shirt. She pulled me to her chest, then dragged me staggering to our house, closing the door before we were sucked out.

        There was this time that she wrote on my back that I had gotten the honor of captain of the safeties of the fifth grade. Another time. she wrote that grandma had died, then wrote that she was sorry. Another time, she wrote that the Tigers had won the world series. I laughed and shook my fist in victory at this. Then the time came that she wrote that she had cancer, and would have to leave me. She didn't write all of those words, but that's what I got. She erased what she wrote at least a dozen times before she let it go to me.

        I had made it home. She pulled me by the hand to the bathtub and as we sat in it she was sitting with her back to the storm and me sitting between her legs, with her arms wrapped tight around me. I felt safe. I was home, and that was all I needed to be.

        The wind blew the roof off and sucked every piece of furniture out of the house. It was a slowly twisting mass of darkness that took all of our things and brought down the wall joists and load bearing walls on top of us. Everything was shaking and I could hear my mom grown as objects hit us from every side. I heard her pray to God for help. I heard her cry and beg for God to save me... Me.

        Hours later, we laid at the bottom of a lot of rubble. We couldn't see sunlight or hear any commotion. We just laid there in the bathtub, below everything that makes a house. I felt a familiar finger on my back. She said, What do you call cheese... that's not your own? I had already heard it, but I shrugged my shoulders anyway. I pretended to laugh at her answer by shaking my tiny diaphragm. She wrote everything about her life on my back and kept shaking me to keep me awake. She wrote that she loved me so many times I lost count. I couldn't answer, something kept me from speaking. There a was a pressure on my chest and a weakness in my throat.

I told her I loved her back in my mind, every time.

        We laid there until be both fell into a deep sleep. To be honest, I fell asleep first. I don't know how long she wrote on my back. I don't want to know. But I do know that at the darkest point of consciousness,  I saw the sunlight. I opened my eyes to it first and immediately looked for her. Things were blurry, but I found her hand hanging from a gurney. I tried to get up. I tried to shout to her. I couldn't produce anything that would disrupt the atmosphere. I thought she was dead. I fell asleep again.

        I would wake days later with an IV in my arm, staring up at ceiling tiles. It took a few moments for me to remember who I was, or where she was.

        Then I heard her voice. I looked to my left and she was reaching for me. I grabbed her hand and we both cried for very different and the very same reasons.


Time flew by. It was weeks, but she was gone in what seemed like a day…

She had two options that she could figure. She looked at him as he slept in that bed she got him from the Salvation Army. The corners of his lips turned up when he was relaxed...when his face could feel nothing. This was the first thing she noticed about him while running her fingers across the contours of his face, moments after giving birth to him. He was a first grader now. He was a really good kid.

She believed he was no reflection of her. She believed he was the very character of God, rising with Him with the sun. She wouldn't soon deserve him. She couldn't. She was only mistakes. She had to choose between the sickness and the sanity of her son. She would have to choose later, she could not right now as she watched him sleep. He didn't deserve that.

         His father was a married man. She didn't even know his name, but he wore a wedding ring opposite hand of his 1977 class ring. He would come and give her money and she would make believe love for him. She didn't even know how long this went on for, but knew he had a disgusting smell to him. His hair smelled like old sweat. His beard smelled of garbage. He was always sweating on her.

He would get up when the love faded and leave the hotel room smiling and forgot to say goodbye every time. She didn't care, she desired him dead when he used words, she desired him dead anyway. She didn't even tell him he had a son, she just ignored his calls and got a job at a supermarket bagging groceries.

         Her two options now? Take her life now or let it happen. Just let the cancer slowly eat her away while he watched from just below the bed rails. Using her head, she could only come to one logical decision. She had a sister who was much better off than her and loved her son as if it were her own. She had a big house with an extra room and two kids the same age. If she just said goodbye now, her son would be OK.

But everything that isn't supposed to feel logical told her to stay. Every moment would be worth a pound of gold to both of them. She would give him the world even as a skeleton.

         She had this choice to make. She had a tube down her throat that would not let her speak to him. At night, he would crawl up on the bed and they would take turns writing things on each other's backs and guessing what the other had said. This night was the THE NIGHT. She had to make a decision before she couldn't anymore. She had to give him something. She couldn't lie anymore or wait for some miracle to happen.

This was her life. His life was about to change. Soon enough, she wouldn't know his face or even be able to see it. Soon enough he would be dead to her mind...a thought that was more torturous than anything she could think of. She knew that he knew she was going away. He just couldn't say it. 

         She flicked his ear to wake him. He stirred and she knew he was listening. He always seemed to be listening. She began drawing on his back. Her hands shook with every letter and she could feel his body tremble with every completed word. Her tears made it hard to keep going. His tears made it hard to feel what she was trying to tell him, but he knew I think.  Her hand stopped at his lower back and he felt her squeeze his small frame against her even smaller one. He braced himself and closed his eyes to think about when she was well.

He went to this thought every time he was scared. He went to he time he fell out of the tree in front of his house and she rocked him back and forth like the wind as it blew storm clouds through the trees. He remembered when she held him when his friend was hit by a car and killed. He didn't understand death until he saw his friend lifeless in a coffin.

         Then he only knew death as just being plastic looking. He closed off the entire world, even when he felt the gasp of his mother's chest and the alarm sounding on the machine next to her. He was definitely crying, but could and would only allow memories of laughter to flood his brain. He would never see the tube in her hand. He would never see all that she sacrificed for him. He would never understand that Salvation Army Bed that took the last of the money she had made with a legitimate job before she started to get sick.

         He would never know all that her life had produced, but he would never forget what she was to him. 

Migrate. T

Thanks for reading...Z

Wednesday, June 14, 2017


        Light beams through every small hole or slash without mistake. Anything open will be filled with it's energy that came from something that gave it up upon death. Energy cannot be destroyed. It must go somewhere. So in part, when something dies, it travels to us and becomes a part of us. We become a part of their story, and theirs ours.


        My father suspended his energy. I was 12 when he was about to die of liver cancer, then was immediately placed into a machine that froze his body to a temperature that would "preserve him." My mom told me I'd see him again in this world, and that he wasn't dead like grandma. He was just sleeping until something wonderful would wake him. I always believed he would wake like she said. I never closed the book as a child. I waited. I waited until I was no longer willing to wait and I stopped believing. He was dead, and I was cheated of saying goodbye.

        My father was a pianist. He was famous for pretty much everything he did. He also sang. He also was an actor. He also wrote screenplays, and once wrote a novel. He never paid too much attention to anyone else. He also was an alcoholic. He was stoic, then angry and violent, then stoic. He slept-in most days until at least 2 PM, and worked on his projects throughout the night. He drank all day and whenever I saw him. So why would I even care right? I was connected to him in a way I cannot explain.

        I don't miss him though. I don't think much about him at all. I never knew the guy. My mom says he was once pretty great, but even she couldn't find any reason to stay at the end. He got sick, we moved away. The last thing he said to me was "Why are you staring at me? Look away." This came directly after he had called my mother a bitch, and I was shocked into looking at him.

        The asshole had himself frozen he was so arrogant. So talented, but so awful. He never did accept that I was not him. I am gifted at literally nothing. I am as average as you get. I got average grades, graduated from and average college with an average psychology degree that I don't use. I got a job in the automotive industry as a laborer, and make average money...relatively speaking. So you can see his disappointment when I couldn't and didn't want to play even "Chopsticks" on the piano.


On October 23 this year, he was thawed. Cancer had been cured. No one had ever been thawed to life before.

        The very first conscious thought or feeling I had was my sense of hearing. I couldn't tell at first whether it was a dream or real. I had at least thousands of unique images in my head that I don't remember any context to. What I heard was different that dreaming. I had been "kind of" dreaming for 30 years. I remember the face of a woman that re-occurred. No idea who she was or what she wanted from me. At times I heard the music, but so distant that I could only barely make it out and recognize it. I remember one song in particular. I don't think I'd ever heard it, at least I don't remember it. I think I would have remembered it though. It was breathtakingly sad and beautiful. Whatever limited brain activity happens during that ice age will always be unknown. I heard a man's voice speaking in words I tried but failed to decipher. It was being born again into the world I left decades ago. I experienced limited sensual capabilities over what they told me was two weeks. Then one day I understood what they were saying and I tried to speak. I wanted to tell them that I was cold. Instead, I spoke without real words.

        It would take months before they would release me into the world. They had called all of my emergency numbers and the numbers were all disconnected or other people. I guess I didn't take into account that I would awake to everyone being dead. My kids were too young to have phone numbers, so they gave me the money I had deposited with them with interest and called me a cab I guess. I walked out into a world that I didn't recognize, nor did it recognize me.

        I looked for a payphone to look at the yellow pages. There was no payphone and there was no yellow pages. At the library, a nice girl showed me the internet. Don't ask me to repeat a single thing she said, but she found my son and directed me to him.


        I had learned about energy from science class. It always fascinated me. During a drunken night in college,  a question occurred to me; "Where does talent go if talent is energy and energy must be funneled elsewhere?" It didn't go to me. It didn't go to my mum. It didn't go anywhere as far as I could tell. My only guess was that the bastard was holding on to it like some petty gambler who lost and turned over the table while still holding on to his money.

I always remembered what he looked like.

        When I opened the door, I was stunned, then shaken, then angered. I shut the door on him. I was reeling. I didn't want to be mean to him: I just reacted. When I opened the door again, he was still standing there, except his back to me as though he were looking at my neighborhood. "What's your birthday?" I ask. He tells me and I know it's him because of his voice. He had this booming voice that gripped you. "So I guess you're feeling better then?" I asked. He just looked at me and tears began filling his eyes. He dropped to his knees and began convulsing. He was unconscious and not responding to anything. He kept saying, "Tha tha tha tha tha." He said nothing else. He would shake for a while, then be calm and sleep until he woke again. This went on for weeks. The physicians kept telling me it was normal. He had no where to go, so he took the guest room. He didn't speak really. He just mumbled beneath his breath.

        Until he asked for grits. This was the first thing I could understand since his re-birthday. He wasn't himself. Months went by and he was alive, but not the same person I knew then. He was actually the opposite. I asked him to play the piano that I bought just to have as furniture. He couldn't play anything. As soon as his fingers touched the keys, he would shiver and shake, then leave the room as fast as he could. He was only interested in my kids. This is strange because he had always hated kids. He was honed in on everything I had wanted as a kid, except it creeped me out now. It was like looking at an incredibly familiar person that you'd never met.


        I saw him and my heart broke. I had written about heartbreak and put it to music my entire life, but I had never felt it I don't think until today. It hurt so very much. His face was familiar because I knew him when he was little, but also because I think I saw him while I was cold...maybe saw him a lot.

        He looked at me at first as if I wasn't there, then closer. After a moment, I felt his eyes inside of me. He asked me my birthday, and the answer came across my lips before I could even figure it out. I panicked and tried to speak, but only looked simple. I was still the blubbering idiot I was at first thaw. In his eyes, I remembered him running around the yard in his little cape, pretending he was the most powerful force on earth. I remembered holding his little frail body when he was born. I remembered him trying to suck on my nose.

I remembered feeling so intensely that I walked away from them. I didn't want to feel it. So I went.

        I worked and worked. I buried myself in whatever misery I could glean from leaving them
in the same house I still lived in. I became a wild success. I remembered feeling so happy and so accomplished winning awards and having people notice me. It felt like being someone else...this huge star that would never burn out.

        But I can remember things now from when I was frozen. I remember emptiness. I saw myself being adored. I hated it. I didn't deserve it. I don't remember many specifics, but I do remember a sequence in my dreams or whatever you want to call them, that focused on me as a little boy. I was speaking to another little boy, who appeared in front of me from somewhere. He looked like my son. but he was older. I remember thinking that it was him, but wound up just staring at him. It was a memory. I was trying to play baseball with the kids from my block. I was always a band geek, but I wanted to have a friend. I kept trying to join their game. They kept refusing. I asked if I could just sit and watch or be the referee. The kid I most wanted as a friend told me to just "Go Home!" In this sequence of dreams, I kept hearing a variation of this kid and my son shouting for me to "Go Home."

        So when I woke and my body could move again...I went home. I travelled through a foreign world to a foreign house. But I got to look into the eyes of my son, who was anything but foreign to me. I looked at him and I saw him. It made me sad that so much time had past. My stomach drops to think about it. All of those times of celebration, mourning, and milestones were spent on earth without me. I was in a cooler when his mother died. He was alone. All of those years spent when he was just a kid one room from me. I closed the door on him. I put my fingers to the piano keys and sold my son.



        I never married. I didn't want it. I never had kids. I have been lonely my entire life, waiting for something good to happen. But I wasn't really trying either. A friend once told me that good things happen to the people that are really trying at something. Something like God helps those who helps themselves. I don't know. I just didn't see much use in putting in the effort for a long shot.

        In my first year of college, I took a creative writing class. I never thought of myself as creative or poetic or anything my father was. But I took this class because it seemed to be an easy way to get those English credits. I wrote about my father. I wrote the paper during a drunken night, the night before it was due. I wrote whatever without anxiety. I just wrote. A week later, my professor would email me. He had given me an A. I expected this, creative writing is a blow-off anyways. But he also wrote something in the email that touched something in me. He told me, "I love your words. In fact, your words continue to echo in me. But I knew it before you wrote them. You wear those words all over. Keep making words, and keep wearing them."

        I felt valued and validated. I had always wanted some piece of creativity. I wanted anything but who I was. This meant a lot to me. Over the next two months, I put all of my energy into the class and writing about things that mattered to me. I got stumped with the right words and it never came naturally to me. I got C's for the rest of the semester. On my last paper. the professor accused me of plagiarism. He told me that these essays were not written by the same author as the one about my father. I got C in the class. I never picked up a pen again to express anything.

        Then he shows back up and I don't know how to take him. So I ask him where he has been. I ask him why I didn't matter to him.



        "You always mattered. To me you mattered. I didn't know how to react to feelings that felt good. Good feelings never inspired me. When I was feeling good, I couldn't be me. I walked away not realizing that you were the very reason to play that piano, and to play beauty into the abyss." I told him everything. He was my son and the only thing I wanted left was for him to forgive me and love me again, like when he was just a kid.

        But he didn't. He asked me to leave. I left his house and walked down the street shaking. This wasn't because I was cold. It was because I had finally felt what it feels like to be warm and then be stripped into the cold. I felt the feeling of being left when you are the most vulnerable. Like he was.

        I walked to a motel and checked in. I went into the bathroom and took down the shower curtain. I twisted it until it was a large rope and tied it around my neck and fastened the other end to the shower pole. I said a prayer to a God that I've never been sure exists and I let me legs go limp and closed my eyes, trying not to struggle. I thought about my son and my wife. I thought about that beautiful song I couldn't remember. I thought about everything and realized that for once in my life I had to try. All of this musical talent came easy. Being a good father was the hard part. The part I was terrified of. I found my legs and stood back up. I loosened the noose and went to the bed and sat down.

        I had to be a different person than I was before I left. I had to try. Then a knock on the door.



        I couldn't watch him leave again. I was so mad at him, but I couldn't let him go again. I followed him as he walked to the motel. I sat in my car in the parking lot just trying to figure the whole thing out. I weighed it all together. I remembered the bad times and remembered that feeling of inexplicable connection I have to him. I think about my mother and her funeral. I remember that she died still believing he would come back. It all didn't make any sense. Why now?

        I turned my key and backed out of the parking lot. I turned on to the main street and sped off as fast as I could. I wanted to be as far away as I could from my father, who left me. My father. My Father?!? I stopped, got out of the car and ran to the motel door. I slammed my fist against it without anything from the other side. I banged and banged and no one answered. So I took a running start and threw my body into the door and it broke open. I found myself on the floor of the motel room looking into the eyes of my father who was sitting in the bed bewildered.

        I got up and sat down beside him. We didn't speak for a while. We both just sat there.



        He busted through the door. He was the last person I thought I would see. There was knocking on the door, but at that moment, I wasn't up for visitors. Then he came in. He sat down next to me and we both became silent. I couldn't figure him out. I was so confused, Why had "God" even woke me in the first place? Why did they thaw me? So I asked him. "Why did you come for me?" He didn't answer at first. He just sat there thinking about it. After grueling moments, he replied, "Because you came home."

        "Can we just go home now."


Thanks for reading...Z

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Where have I been......?

        "Do I know you? Do I even know you?" - S. Carey (Brassy Sun)

        I was watching this Netflix show called "Flaked." You all should watch it. It's funny, yet dramatic and the characters are real. In the very first episode of the second season, there was this scene that I won't spoil. But it punched me in the gut though, like so hard that it took my breath away. The song above played during.

        These words cut into me. "Do I even know you?" It's not speaking to me about knowing you. It's speaking about knowing myself. It hurt because when I look in the mirror most days... lately.... I don't recognize the person I'm looking at. I'm just a person looking at a person. I stand in the shower, the place that I used to do most of my praying, and I find someone just trying to get clean and get out.

        The problem is that I can't just get clean and get out. I have to put in the work and I don't want to. For me to get clean, I have to let go of some things that will bring me great pain to let go of. I'm not ready to do that. I'm not sure I'll ever be ready to do that. But I can't continue being who I am now. It isn't me and my entire soul is in mourning because of it. I have to find my way, apart from every dark place that lives inside of me.

        I'm gonna find my way.
        Even if it takes them from me.
        I have to find my way.
        Even if it takes everything I have left.
        I'll find my way.
        With the help of my God, and my family.
        I'm gonna find my way...

        To You.

I'm searching for whales.
I'm searching for me.


Thanks for reading...Z